GILLETTE, Wyo. — Election season is well underway and County 17 has sent a list of questions to each candidate who has filed to run for a municipal office.
These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. All candidate responses submitted to County 17 are republished as they are received.
Below, get to know City Councilman Nathan McLeland, who is running for the office of Gillette Mayor:
- Who are you?
I am Nathan McLeland, and I am running for Mayor of Gillette. I am a Gillette native. My wife, Robbie, and I have four amazing children, and we are proud to call Gillette our home.
I graduated from Campbell County High School in 1995. After high school, I attended the University of Wyoming, where I studied political science and competed in cross country, track, and indoor track. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2000 and then attended the University of Wyoming College of law. In 2003 I graduated from law school and was admitted to the Wyoming State Bar that fall. In the summer of 2003, I returned with my wife, Robbie, and began practicing law at the firm of Lubnau, Bailey & Dumbrill. In 2007 I joined our family oil gas business, M & K Oil Company, which my father and grandfather started in 1974. In 2016 I assumed the CEO role after my father was injured in a fire at a well site.
I was appointed to the City Council in January 2019 and elected to complete my term in November 2020. While on the Council, I have served as Council President and interim Mayor. Before joining the City Council, I served on the Juvenile and Family Drug Court Board, the Gillette College Advisory (including multiple terms as Chairman and Vice-Chairman), and the Campbell County Public Land Board.
My hobbies include cycling, running, hunting, fishing, shooting, aviation, and spending time with my family.
- Why have you decided to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?
I am running for Mayor because Gillette will require experienced, steady, and knowledgeable leadership to press forward in the coming years; I will provide that leadership as Gillette’s Mayor. I am always looking for opportunities, especially when things are difficult. I have a proven record of overcoming adverse circumstances and constantly pushing ahead. I have done so in my personal and professional life, and I will use my skills and knowledge to move Gillette forward in a positive way.
- How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?
I plan to accomplish my goals the way we always have; by working together towards a common goal. This city was built because we recognized we could accomplish great things with common vision and purpose. When we decided we needed something to improve our community, we all came together and figured out how to make it happen. Our leaders knew if they acted together, they could build something extraordinary. We need to keep the partnerships that built this community thriving and elect leaders that are passionate advocates for Gillette. I have a proven record of working with various governmental entities and agencies to accomplish goals, and I have been, and always will be, a passionate advocate for our city.
- What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?
As the CEO of an oil and gas business, I am familiar with boom-and-bust cycles and know how to lead organizations through complex and challenging situations. As a lawyer, I have experience dealing with many of the relevant laws, rules, and regulations that arise. I will put my knowledge and experience to work for Gillette’s citizens as Mayor. I am always looking for opportunities, even when circumstances are difficult, and I have consistently found ways to keep organizations moving ahead in challenging situations.
Before joining the City Council in 2019, I served as a member of the Juvenile and Family Drug Court Board, the Gillette College Advisory Board, and the Campbell County Public Land Board. I have also served as President of the City Council and Interim Mayor.
- Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
As Mayor, I will be a good steward of tax dollars. It is crucial to balance investing in the programs and capital projects that keep our city the incredible place we enjoy today and hold funds back for difficult times. As a business owner, I know how to walk that line. I will ensure we strike the proper balance between investing and saving and accomplish our core mission even if times are difficult.
- On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?
I support conducting city business transparently and in an open manner that encourages public attendance. While I served as Interim Mayor, the City Council made several changes to ensure it conducts its business transparently and that the public could easily attend meetings. Those changes include eliminating pre-meeting dinners in the third-floor conference room, eliminating work sessions and pre-meetings, amending our ordinances to add a third regular meeting every month, and changing the time of the regular meetings to 6:00 p.m.
Additionally, In January of 2022, the City Council underwent a third-party review conducted by the Cheyenne City Attorney’s Office of past practices to provide recommendations on best practices moving forward. I was fully committed to that process, and I am fully committed to the changes the Council made. Importantly, I demonstrated my commitment to that process by fully complying with all the reviewer’s requests for information, including granting them unrestricted access to my cell phone and emails. As Mayor, I will continue to ensure the City Council conducts its business transparently and as openly as possible.
7. (For new applicants seeking election) Do you believe the office or board position you seek has been open and honest with the public? If yes, how can the entity remain open and transparent when conducting public business moving forward. If not, what changes would you implement to ensure that all future dealings are open and transparent?
The review described above noted several past practices of the City Council that needed to be changed. Also, as I stated above, I supported making those changes. I have supported, and will continue to support, those changes as Mayor. One of my priorities as Mayor is to restore trust in local government. Conducting public business openly and transparently is a fundamental part of that process. As Mayor, I will ensure the City Council conducts its business as transparently and openly as possible.
- If you are presiding over a meeting and a topic was being discussed that you didn’t fully understand, would you ask for a more detailed explanation during the meeting or would you seek the information after the meeting?
I will also work hard to be sure the public and the Council fully understand the topic at issue. Many complicated issues come before the City Council that involve concepts that are often not intuitive or require an explanation from an expert on the matter. I endeavor to go into every meeting prepared. If I do not understand something, I will talk to people and learn more about the subject. I am not afraid to ask questions. As Mayor, I will ensure that matters coming before the City Council are explained so that Council, the public, and I understand the issue.
- Should you be elected, or re-elected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes in your chosen office? If yes, what would those changes be? If not, why not?
The city needs to get back to its roots. I will ensure the city is once again proactive and forward-thinking. I will work with our teams to evaluate our assets in the community, such as rail, electrical capacity, and water, and determine ways to use them for new businesses. I will tell Gillette’s story to families and businesses and tell them that this community gets things done. As Mayor, I will maintain an open and welcoming office, receptive to input from our citizens, businesses, and other government partners. Finally, I will continue to insist on transparency and openness in our local government to restore trust in our city’s government.
- What impact do you feel sports tourism has on Gillette and does that impact justify the costs of the Energy Capital Sports Complex, commonly referred to as the “Field of Dreams”?
Sports tourism has been a great success. The demand for our facilities is beginning to exceed their capacities, and Gillette is fast becoming a destination for sports tournaments. Sports tourism benefits Gillette’s economy, and I believe, in general, the benefit to the community from sports tourism justifies investing in facilities such as Camplex and Field of Dreams. However, we must do so smartly. We must ensure that we do not drain our reserves in building these facilities. We must ensure that we build facilities that address the demand for sports tourism and that yield a benefit to Gillette’s citizens. As Gillette’s Mayor, I will ensure we build facilities that yield benefits to Gillette’s citizens.
- How can your community prepare for future economic downturns resulting from volatile energy markets and a potential global shift away from coal?
To prepare for future economic downturns, we need to continue the work have started to find new uses for coal—the recent opening of the Wyoming Innovation Center is an excellent step in that direction. We also need to inventory our current assets and evaluate how we can use them in new ways for future business. We have extensive industrial infrastructure and expertise in Gillette. We need to find ways to use these assets for new businesses, seek out businesses that need what we have to offer, and let them know we can help them succeed. Gillette is a community that gets things done. We need to ensure prospective know we are committed to their success. Lastly, we need to support our current business. Gillette is home to several innovative and successful businesses. We must maintain open lines of communication with these businesses and listen to their ideas to continue growing Gillette’s economy and ensure the city is meeting their needs. Supporting current businesses as they grow and innovate is a key to Gillette’s future prosperity.